Gerald Ford and Liberty the Golden Retriever

Gerald Ford, who was President of the United States for a single term starting in
1974, owned a dog called Liberty during his time at the White House.

Liberty was a Golden Retriever, and became quite popular during her time as First
Pet.

She was regularly photographed in the White House, including in the Oval Office,
and loved to go swimming at Camp David.

Liberty, originally known as "Streaker," was given to the President's family when she was 8 months old. The breeder wasn't allowed to know who was receiving the dog until the last moment, and according to many reports almost refused in case the new owners weren't suitable. In 1975, Liberty had a litter of puppies in the White House. While it's not known where all the puppies ended up, one called "Misty" was kept by Mr. Ford.

Liberty was much loved by President Ford, although he didn't take care of her on a daily basis. A caretaker did most of the routine tasks but Mr. Ford was happy to help out when needed. Liberty, like most Golden Retrievers, was a friendly and obedient dog. She was even trained to pay attention to a guest on a specific hand signal, which Mr. Ford used regularly when he wanted to break up a conversation or end a meeting.

A popular story is that the President, after volunteering to take care of Liberty one night while the caretaker was away, realized he had to take her out before bed to "do her business." Unfortunately, he didn't think it was necessary to alert the Secret Service, but on returning realized he was locked out of the White House! The President had to talk to guards in order to be let in which must have been a bit of an embarrassing moment for the most powerful man in the world.

Everyone has their favorite breeds, but for many a Golden Retriever is the ideal breed. These dogs are strong, intelligent and attractive, all important qualities for any President's First Pet. The breed isn't too large and is very intelligent, which makes the Golden Retriever easy to handle (unlike Lucky, President Reagan's Bouvier des Flandres!). Other desirable characteristics of Golden Retrievers include loyalty and low aggression levels - all of which are important for a dog that is in the public eye.

Gerald Ford wasn't as active as many other Presidents, so a Golden Retriever may not have seemed like an ideal choice. Mr. Ford is said to have played golf and tennis, but wasn't a fan of the long hikes or ranch walks that other Presidents enjoyed. Golden Retrievers are generally very active and require a lot of exercise, as the dogs were bred to retrieve waterfowl when hunting. This wasn't a problem for Ford though, mainly because he didn't need to take care of the dog's exercise on a daily basis. It's likely the he chose the breed with his daughter Susan in mind, as she loved dogs and Golden Retrievers make great family pets.